MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information
COPING WITH DIFFICULT EMOTIONS
For "Informational Use Only".
For more detailed information, contact your health care provider
about options that may be available for your specific situation.
The way people handle difficult emotions such as anger or frustration, can have a profound effect on physical health.
DIFFICULT EMOTIONS - AN INTRODUCTION
We laugh when we are happy and cry when we are sad; we talk of being "racked with grief," "gnawed by guilt," "green with envy," and "burning with rage." Our feelings and emotions are not just an inescapable part of being human, but, it seems, a demonstrable expression of the link between the mind and body. Scientists have found evidence of this "interconnectedness" in the waves of hormonal substances known as endorphins that are triggered by pleasure, and in the racing heart and surge of stress hormones associated with anger and fear. Our thoughts prompt moods that are reflected in physiological reactions and can have an impact, for better or worse, on well-being.
HOW HOSTILE ARE YOU?
Constant feelings of hostility have been linked with an increased incidence of heart disease. Consider the following to assess your tendency for hostility:
- Is your immediate reaction to everyday frustrations, such as a slow line in the supermarket, or being stuck behind a slow truck, to blame somebody else? Do you then feel anger toward them? Do you express it with some kind of aggressive action?
- Listen to the way you talk. Hostile people are deeply self-involved and litter their conversation with "I, me, my, mine." Their constantly irritated manner becomes habitual.
We have different ways of feeling and dealing with emotions, depending on the makeup of the body and nervous system, as well as on upbringing and experiences, and the culture in which we live. In Mediterranean countries, for example, grief at the loss of a loved one can be expressed openly without censure, while in northern European societies, the bereaved may be expected, at least in public, to be "strong" and to "bottle up" their tears to spare others discomfort. Our physical constitution is also said to play a role in our way of coping with feelings. The ability to manage stressful situations and "internal stressors," for example, might be influenced by individual differences in body or brain structure.
PROBLEMS WITH EMOTIONS
Negative as well as positive emotions have their place in life. It is natural to fear danger, to feel anxiety about the unknown, anger at powerlessness, or sadness in the face of loss. Learning to express emotion in a healthy and appropriate way should be part of growing up.
Sometimes, however, emotions can be so strong and confusing that it can help to talk them through with someone - perhaps a good friend or counselor. Otherwise, feelings that threaten to overwhelm us or that seem socially unacceptable, such as anguish or rage, may be held in check, even becoming unconscious. They may surface in other ways - in unreasonable anger with family members, for example, or in excessive intake of alcohol. Letting yourself cry in an environment in which you feel secure acts as a physical and emotional safety valve: cortisol, a stress hormone, is shed in tears.
Long term studies have shown that people who are generally optimistic in their attitudes tend be healthier in later life than pessimists, who were prone to more health problems.
Problems can also arise when one kind of emotion predominates, since we need a palette of emotional colors to deal with life's many predicaments. According to current traditional psychological theories, if one style of emotional reaction predominates, it can disturb our inner balance so that we eventually become sick.
If someone gets trapped in a particular mood or feeling, all experiences are interpreted in the light of that mood, thus reinforcing it. For example, if you feel "down" and depressed, you tend to view everything pessimistically: you expect the worst and blame yourself.
Constant feelings of cynical mistrust, anger, and aggression are not only risky for the heart, but are even suspected of contributing to cancer.
So our view of the world has implications for well-being. Pessimists tend to lack self-esteem, something that reinforces many other difficult emotions internal stressor. But overcoming poor self-esteem provides the "hardiness" to deal effectively with stressful events. Even quite small shifts in self-perception can bring about profound changes in life.
There is some research suggesting that "cold responders," people who persistently respond to stress by withdrawing and blaming themselves, and who seldom get angry, cry, or express other feelings, may be more prone to immune-related diseases. "Hot responders," those who persistently blame others when under pressure, may place a different kind of strain on the body.
Strong emotions, such as grief or despair, can overwhelm, both physically and mentally, if they are "bottled up." In Mediterranean countries it is accepted for people to grieve openly.
ANGER & HOSTILITY
Anger can be a perfectly appropriate emotion. However, "type A" behavior (driven, tense, competitive, aggressive, and quick to anger) is linked with an increased risk of heart disease. Research shows that the relevant trait is hostility. This is not a flash of hot temper, nor the surge of anger that can precipitate the will to live, but rather a constant corrosive feeling of annoyance and irritation toward people and surroundings. It has been compared to a small dose of poison every day.
This method, adapted from cognitive behavioral techniques helps to avoid dwelling on negative and stress-inducing thoughts and memories.
- When you become aware that your thoughts are taking a negative turn, shout "STOP!" in your head.
- Then switch your mind to a pleasant subject that you enjoy thinking about, such as a favorite beautiful scene. The theory is that the mind cannot deal with two opposing feelings at once, and so the first, negative emotion is defused.
When angry, hostile people experience greater physiological responses, such as increased blood pressure and the release of stress hormones, which place more strain on the body. These people are also more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, and overeat, all of which are habits detrimental to health. Their behavior provokes hostility in others so that conflict escalates, and can socially isolate them. While some experts believe that a deficiency of serotonin, the neurotransmitter linked with mood enhancement, may be involved, others point out that it is possible for people to change the way they feel and behave.
CHANGING YOUR EMOTIONAL HABITS
Hostility, pessimism, and anxiety clearly erode quality of life, and they may also undermine health. Changing these habits of mind may be a key to well-being, so researchers are investigating ways to help people who get stuck in a negative frame of mind to experience more positive feelings.
Habitual cold responders may have to learn how to become "hotter"; hot responders to "cool down." Psychoanalytic therapists see these habits as rooted in childhood experiences; cognitive and behavioral therapists would teach techniques for handling thoughts, feelings, and behavior; and humanistic therapists would encourage experimentation with a greater range of expression.
Try to improve your relationships with others by listening to what people say. In return, they will respond more positively to you. Learn self-assertion and communication skills, practice tolerance, trust, and forgiveness, confide in a friend or partner, and get involved in your community.
AROMATHERAPY: ESSENTIAL OILS DESCRIPTIONS & USES
Allspice Leaf Oil Angelica Oil Anise Oil Baobab Oil Basil Oil Bay Laurel Oil Bay Oil Benzoin Oil Bergamot Oil Black Pepper Oil Chamomile (German) Oil Cajuput Oil Calamus Oil Camphor (White) Oil Caraway Oil Cardamom Oil Carrot Seed Oil Catnip Oil Cedarwood Oil Chamomile Oil Cinnamon Oil Citronella Oil Clary-Sage Oil Clove Oil Coriander Oil Cypress Oil Dill Oil Eucalyptus Oil Fennel Oil Fir Needle Oil Frankincense Oil Geranium Oil German Chamomile Oil Ginger Oil Grapefruit Oil Helichrysum Oil Hyssop Oil Iris-Root Oil Jasmine Oil Juniper Oil Labdanum Oil Lavender Oil Lemon-Balm Oil Lemongrass Oil Lemon Oil Lime Oil Longleaf-Pine Oil Mandarin Oil Marjoram Oil Mimosa Oil Myrrh Oil Myrtle Oil Neroli Oil Niaouli Oil Nutmeg Oil Orange Oil Oregano Oil Palmarosa Oil Patchouli Oil Peppermint Oil Peru-Balsam Oil Petitgrain Oil Pine-Long Leaf Oil Pine-Needle Oil Pine-Swiss Oil Rosemary Oil Rose Oil Rosewood Oil Sage Oil Sandalwood Oil Savory Oil Spearmint Oil Spikenard Oil Swiss-Pine Oil Tangerine Oil Tea-Tree Oil Thyme Oil Vanilla Oil Verbena Oil Vetiver Oil Violet Oil White-Camphor Oil Yarrow Oil Ylang-Ylang Oil Aromatherapy
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AROMATHERAPY: HERBAL & CARRIER OILS DESCRIPTIONS & USES
Almond, Sweet Oil Apricot Kernel Oil Argan Oil Arnica Oil Avocado Oil Baobab Oil Black Cumin Oil Black Currant Oil Black Seed Oil Borage Seed Oil Calendula Oil Camelina Oil Castor Oil Coconut Oil Comfrey Oil Evening Primrose Oil Flaxseed Oil Grapeseed Oil Hazelnut Oil Hemp Seed Oil Jojoba Oil Kukui Nut Oil Macadamia Nut Oil Meadowfoam Seed Oil Mullein Oil Neem Oil Olive Oil Palm Oil Plantain Oil Plum Kernel Oil Poke Root Oil Pomegranate Seed Oil Pumpkin Seed Oil Rosehip Seed Oil Safflower Oil Sea Buckthorn Oil Sesame Seed Oil Shea Nut Oil Soybean Oil St. Johns Wort Oil Sunflower Oil Tamanu Oil Vitamin E Oil Wheat Germ Oil
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RELATED MOONDRAGON HEALTH LINKS & INFORMATION
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